Wednesday, July 22, 2009


It's 3 AM and I can't sleep. This almost never happens. There was one night in college when I rolled around in bed for most of the night and for years afterward, I refered to the experience as "that time I had insomnia". Generally, I fall asleep as my head is hitting the pillow, if not before. Tonight, though, I woke up a couple of hours ago to the sound of Sam having a nightmare, and although he fell asleep again almost immediately, I haven't been so fortunate.

Here's what's bothering me: what if I'm making a terrible mistake?

I start Saturday in the CCU, which means for all intents and purposes, I start internship on Saturday. And suddenly, I feel sick to my stomach. I am reasonably sure -- as sure as you can be, I suppose -- that Sam will make it through the year unscathed. But will I? Earlier today, Brian and I talked (calmly, rationally) about how he and Sam will likely go to Oregon for Thanksgiving and Christmas, leaving me here in California alone. (Thanksgiving = VA wards; Christmas = University hospital wards.) So I will miss my baby's second Thanksgiving and his second Christmas.

Oh, nuts. Now I'm crying.

More than the holidays, though, I'm going to miss a thousand ephemeral moments with my tiny son over the next year: swinging at the park, snuggling on the couch with a library book, hanging out laundry in the backyard. And I just wish there was some way to know for sure that it will be worth it. I wish there was some way to look forward to the future, to the time when I envision meaningful work matched with ample time to mother and ask my future-self: was it worth it?

I've thought this issue through from every side, talked about it with friends and family until there's nothing left unsaid. I'm desperate to make the choice that will most bless my son, my husband and myself, over the long term. Caitlin Flanagan famously wrote that "when a mother works, something is lost." What she failed to mention is that something is lost either way. If I don't complete an internship, I'll leave behind a career I've worked years to build. Doctoring offers me the opportunity to set an example for my impressionable son, flourish in the public sphere, nurture my peer marriage, maintain my economic independence. A second income will give my family security in uncertain times. More important, I'm good at it. More important still, it needs doing. But at what cost?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Beach baby

Last weekend, while Brian lived it up in Gold Beach, some friends rescued me and Sam, and spirited us off to Pescadero for an afternoon at the beach. We had a wonderful time and I took this little movie of Sam digging in the sand.

Warning: this movie contains no content. It's just Sam, digging. If you aren't crazy about this kid, the movie may actually bore you to death.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

By request

My mother asked for a new video of Sam. He isn't exactly John Barrymore, is all I have to say.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Chest pain

Being on call for our university-affiliated nursing home this week has been an interesting introduction to doctoring. On Thursday morning, I was paged for the following question:

"Mr. W. is having some new left-sided chest pain. He thinks he's having a heart attack and he'd like to take an aspirin. Can we give him aspirin?" There's a pause while I reflect momentarily on the insane conversation I'm having.

"Okay," I say to the nurse on the phone. "Aspirin is fine." And I'm thinking, she can't be serious.

"Well, what dose of aspirin would you like us to give him?"

WAIT, she IS serious.

"Do YOU think Mr. W. is having a heart attack?" I ask her.

"I don't know," she says, sounding disinterested. And I'm thinking, aren't you CURIOUS? I sure as hell am.

"Let's get an EKG," I suggest.

"I don't know," she says, dubious. "We'd have to send him to [our university hospital] for that."